The Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel held its fourth meeting of the year this week. Conducted virtually, it attracted a number of comments due to the meeting’s focus on the plant’s spent fuel and where it can be stored.
The Advisory Panel heard various updates on the current status of decommissioning of the former Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant from state agencies and NorthStar, the company conducting decommissioning work. The panel also heard a presentation from Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative Executive Director Jim Hamilton on the status of spent fuel policy in the country. “If you’re trying to figure out where is the waste going to go you’re at least 10 to 15 years away from any waste moving. That’s just a Yucca Mountain bookend. We’ve heard a lot about interim storage. The folks in New Mexico and Texas are trying to advance those. They’re pursuing licenses. New Mexico is out front. It’s anybody’s guess when a license could be granted. I think that probably in the New Mexico case ‘22, ‘23 give or take. It’s obviously subject to litigation. And just because you can NRC license doesn’t mean you get to operate it.”
With spent fuel policy the focus of the meeting, the Safe and Green Campaign put out a call for people to comment, saying there is no place for Vermont Yankee’s used nuclear fuel and reactor parts to be stored other than at the plant’s site in Vernon.
Citizens Awareness Network Executive Director Deb Katz says Yankee Rowe in Massachusetts has about 42 million curies of high level waste sitting on a pad at that site. She asked NorthStar’s Senior Manager Corey Daniels how much nuclear waste remains in Vermont. “What I would like if you can give it to me is an estimate of the amount of waste and low level waste you intend to ship.”
Daniels: “In general the remainder of the low level waste on site will all be shipped.”
Katz: “Do you have a sense of where that waste will go other than sitting on the pad out at Vernon?”
Daniels: “I can’t answer that question until the Department of Energy and the federal government make some decisions with respect to how they’re going to meet their obligations and address the nuclear waste fund and spent nuclear fuel in general.”
Citizens Awareness Network Board Member Leona Morgan lives in New Mexico and has concerns about Vermont Yankee’s waste storage options. “I’m indigenous to this area. My family’s been in the northwestern part of the state for thousands of years. And I can definitely say our communities are not happy about these proposals to store spent fuel either in New Mexico or Texas. We don’t want the waste. And it’s not just to keep it out of New Mexico but we’re very concerned about the transport across the country.”